Coach Alvin Alindogan shares 11 practical bike handling tips and tricks for cycling newbies, young and old
1. Young triathletes age 10 to 15 can try a stable bike like a small-wheeled BMX or a mountain bike to train their skills and balance—however they can only use these in training except for Xterra events, which allow mountain bikes.
2. Train on small gear first on flat roads for 30 to 45 minutes to feel and experience the ride. Try the short looping roads to test your turning ability.
3. Road and tri bikes are much lighter and have the most gear for shifting during training and racing. The handlebar and aero bars should not touch the knees and have enough space for pedaling to avoid accidents during sharp turns and uphill climbs. Using 23mm tires for road and tri bikes is better for stability and bike handling on flat and semi-rough pavement.
4. Ride along a flat road, with a speed of 20 kph, holding on to the upper handlebars with the fingers touching the bike’s break lever for a quick break response when stopping. Shift to a small crank and lighter cog teeth—you can go faster by spinning quickly and going with the riding group but be aware of the distance of the biker in front of you. Remember that you have to start lightly to warm up first before going into big gears (big crank and smaller cogs).
5. Train alternately on small and big gears. Small gear is good for leg muscle flexibility. A sample training program would be to do 20 minutes each of small and big gears. Or, on Mondays, train on low gears and then big gears the following day, and so on. The purpose is not to exert too much pressure on your legs to avoid overtraining.
6. Train with a buddy system or ride with a group. You can shift from lighter gear and still be able to hold on with the group, and then shift to higher gear if you feel the pace is getting faster.
7. Choose your buddy or the group of riders thoughtfully, especially if you are young or new to the sport.
8. During the ride, if you cannot hold on with the fast group, look for riders who fit you. There are some that maintain their speed and some who always go all-out with their rides.
9. You may try speed work at least twice a week and do long rides during weekends with more experienced bikers. Speed work is a series of short intervals of riding in a fast pace—35 to 40 kph for young triathletes, and faster than 40 kph for professional triathletes. A young cyclist or triathlete can complete a repetition of fast one kilometer or shorter distance. An even more skilled athlete can go longer. Do a speed work of 5 x 1,000 meters with rest intervals of one minute or cooldown biking. You can gain more momentum on straight roads.
10. Longer and stronger cycling ability requires endurance workout. It should cover 50 to 60 kilometers for young triathletes.
11. Young triathletes are more excited to do out-of-town rides and enjoy training with their teammates or buddies. But to be on the safe side, always go with more experienced riders or with your bike coach.